Don’t worry, fellow nerds: I’m not here to kvetch about whitewashing or how the new design looks nothing like Rita Repulsa from the 90s Power Rangers. I just want to register a comment about how easily the publicity for pop artifacts descends into utter vapidity. Consider what Elizabeth Banks had to say to People on Rita’s new look:
It’s definitely a modern and edgy re-imagining of the original Rita Repulsa.
This is an utterly content-free comment.
I know, I know. It’s People magazine, which has as its official mission statement: “Bringing you the latest in the totally irrelevant and salacious since 1908!” One cannot expect movie stars to wax philosophical about the marriage of form and content when the secret marriage of Branjelica or Gwennifer or Whomsoever is the cover story. Nobody who reads People magazine cares.
Then there’s the fact that Banks is not being paid to wax philosophical by her studio masters, and even if she did, nobody expects great insight about the costume design for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
In short, I’m being pedantically picayune. If you’ve read this far, you’d expect no less.
The point is that it is utterly unclear what relationship this particular “re-imagining” has to the adjectives “modern” or “edgy.” If these words have not already been totally emptied of all meaning in public discourse, Banks moves them that much further toward the goal line, past which all signifiers are empty and all interpersonal communication is reduced to pheromones and copyright-protected emojis.
Admittedly, I’m being deliberately obtuse about this. I have a sense of what Banks means by calling this re-imagining “modern” and “edgy.” Ideally, what I think she means to suggest is that her Rita will be “hip to the youth” and “envelope-pushing.” Perhaps even “subversive.” (Gasp! Can such things be?) “Modern” compared to what, or when? Where exactly does the “edge” lie, along which Rita Repulsa’s “modern” look, much like the snail in Col. Kutz’s fever dream, is precariously balanced?
To be honest, I”m rather looking forward to the new Power Rangers movie. I don’t expect it to be good. But I have a genuine soft spot for MMPR. I’ve always felt that the first (American) film, while sort of terrible for general audiences, did a pretty good job giving a big-screen gloss for fans of the low-budget TV show, but that its terrible-at-the-time CGI climax has aged so poorly that it wrecks the relative competence of the rest. Contemporary special effects, in other words, could do wonders for a Power Rangers flick that displays even modest competence in its writing and performances. Elizabeth Banks is a fine actress, and I look forward to seeing what she does with this role. So all the hang-wringing over the new film’s fidelity or lack thereof to the 90s show simply does not speak to anything I care about at this point in my life. I just want to be entertained for an hour and a half.
That’s why the Orwellian hypespeak strikes me as the most significant part of this “first look” exclusive. Give me panem et circenses: I know very well that the Power Rangers movie is just one more footfall in the long slide of empire into the decadence and cultural corruption of its people. Just don’t try to convince me that the culture industry Juvenal was writing about a couple millennia ago, and diagnosed by every other cultural theorist in the last century-plus, from Horkheimer/Adorno to Matthew Arnold, is “modern and edgy.” It’s not. The fact that I’m willing to fork over my time and money for a distraction from the evils of contemporary life is nothing new. Elizabeth Banks, why can’t you just let me luxuriate my intellectual decomposition without giving me the offense of assuming that said decomposition already has been completed?☕
 This is not People magazine’s official mission statement. The official mission statement is probably: “Filling that emotional void in your life with meaningless drivel since 1908!” Just deducing here. I could be in error.
 Saints and angels preserve us.